Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 30, 2011 - Progress?

Sometime during our first year in Kenya, we saw lane lines being painted on the road.  By hand.

Almost four years later, we saw lane lines being painted on the road again this past weekend.  With a sprayer (takes less time to do and might even last longer)!

So maybe that is not the greatest technology in the world, but it IS a technological improvement and is also just one small sign of the development happening in Nairobi right now.  A huge highway bypass system is being constructed, parts of it already in use, along with more office buildings, apartment buildings and housing compounds than we can count.  Roads are being improved (at least somewhat; some of K's colleagues used to commute for 90 minutes to get to work and now it only takes 30 minutes, which frees up 2 hours of their day to either be productive at work or spend with their families) and lighting for night time driving is also better.  One of the newest and definitely fanciest malls just opened a KFC (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken) and a Yogurt Planet (which I think is a little slice of heaven).  Since we moved here, Kenya has also established itself as a world leader in mobile phone technology and banking (see M-Pesa or this article or this article) and is far more advanced than the US and Europe.  Kristoffer is even using this technology in many of his development projects at WFP.  At Nairobi's biggest (only) toy store chain, you can now get many high-end toys from the US (if you are willing to pay three or four times the American price).  

Grow grow grow.  Develop develop develop. Progress progress progress.
It's great.  

The problem with all of this development, as I see it, is that it targets the middle and upper classes - including a large population of financially stable expats (guilty as charged) - BUT it neglects the poorest and most disenfranchised members of Kenyan society, including those 3 million or so people who are currently starving.  I suppose that is not all that different than in any other country where there are rich and poor populations, it is just that for some reason it seems even more criminal in this context.  The poor here are a type of poor and a type of hungry that you and I can't even possibly imagine (and when I write that I am remembering a time in NYC when a homeless man was begging for change, and I offered him half of a sesame bagel with cream cheese and tomato that I hadn't touched and he turned it down because he didn't like sesame seeds).  

So yay for Nairobi: grow! develop! progress! But boo for Kenya: start taking care of ALL of your people (and a new social movement called Kenyans for Kenya is requesting the same).  In a country that has as much wealth as Kenya has (much of it in the pockets of just a few people I believe), there should be a focus on helping all Kenyans put food in their mouths and not on bringing an expensive American fast-food chain to the mouths of a few.  Progress is great, but let's get our priorities straight first.


Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011 - The Car in Front

On Saturday we were out driving with the kids and I saw a model of Toyota that I had never seen or heard of before.  That led to a discussion about how many different Toyota models there are in Kenya (I said 50 - of course because I tend to exaggerate - and Kristoffer said 20 - thinking that maybe that was even too high).  The discussion led to us making a list of every kind of Toyota model we saw while out and about that day.   There were 40 different kinds of Toyotas in all - so I wasn't that far off, and Kristoffer was (note: I really like winning these types of bets).  We often see cars that have spare tire covers with the slogan "The Car in Front is ALWAYS a Toyota"...and in Kenya, that is almost always true!  How many of these models have you heard of in the country where you live?  

Corolla (a different model - didn't get the name)
Hilux (truck)
Hilux (SUV)
Landcruiser (there are actually quite a few different kinds of these)
Landcruiser Prado
Mark II
Sprinter (a different model - didn't get the name)
Unidentified Toyota Matatu
Unidentified Toyota Truck #1
Unidentified Toyota Truck #2
Unidentified Toyota Truck #3
Unidentified Toyota Truck #4
Unidentified Toyota Truck #5

That's a lot of Toyotas!  And, for the record, we love our Toyota Ipsum :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 - Too Close to Home

On Friday, the UN in Abuja, Nigeria was attacked by a suicide bomber.  Information about casualties and deaths is not final yet, but needless to say it is a horrible tragedy and many UN staff members lost their lives.  I know that horrible tragedies happen all over the world everyday and that a lot of people live with suicide bombers and terrorist attacks on a regular basis.  But, when something like this happens - on a UN compound - I have a bit of a "Oh my God! Why do we live here?  Why does he work there?" moment.  

It happened at a UN compound in Somalia when I was pregnant with Grace.  We had not yet lived here a year.  I was in Nairobi and Kristoffer was in Uganda for a conference; I couldn't get in touch with him and had a completely irrational panic attack [note, in case you need to brush up on your African geography - neither one of us was anywhere near to being anywhere close to being even in the same country as the bombing].  I was almost hyperventilating and my UNICEF colleagues had to calm me down - fearing an early labor or something I'm sure!

It happened again on Friday, although to a smaller degree. I just started having visions in my head of a bombing at the UN here in Nairobi.  How will I know?  How will I get in touch with Kristoffer?  How will I tell our families? What will I do if I am alone in this country and I need to get to some "family crisis response center"?  What if I am at the UN to do some banking when it happens?  What if Kristoffer is not even on the compound at the time but I can't reach him to be sure?  As you can see, I have a hard time stopping my "what ifs" from spiraling out of control.  

It also happens if, for some reason, I don't hear from Kristoffer during the work day at all (usually we text) or if I try to get in touch with him and can't.  One time both he and Charles happened to have the ringers on their phones off and I was trying to reach one of them. I feared, of course, that there was some kind of attack at the UN just as Charles was picking Kristoffer up from work.

Most of the time, I don't allow these thoughts to consume me and I am happy with our life.  Terrorist attacks happen, as we know, even in the US and Europe. We simply can't stop living our life out of fear or, of course, the terrorists win.  We are still more likely to die in a car crash than in a terrorist attack, but it's not like we don't get into our car everyday.  But I do live here - a place that is mostly fine but also has a dark side that we don't like to write too much about - and we don't have a huge network of people who would be able to help us in a major emergency, particularly if they were also dealing with that same emergency (as most of our friends here would probably be).  I feel like there is a small percentage of my brain and heart that is constantly worrying/thinking about our security.  I am not always aware of it, but it is always working in the background.

So, it's really just that the news of Friday's bombing hit a little too close to home for me.  As usual, I pray for the UN staff who lost their colleagues, the families who are grieving and the Nigerian community that has to rebuild.  And I pray that we are never in that situation.  I pray.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27, 2011 - Easy Target

On Thursday night I met two of my friends for dinner (yay for me!).  I took a taxi to get there after the kids were in bed and while stopped at a roundabout, we got hit from behind.  There was no damage to the car and thankfully not much damage to my neck (which I feared big time because I definitely jerked forward quite a bit and I have had whiplash before) BUT the reason for the crash is quite interesting.  In the car behind us, the driver was talking on his cell phone with his window rolled down...and a man just walking by (yes, Kenyans walk on the highway) grabbed the driver's cell phone out of his hand and ran away into the night.  So the driver got really flustered and didn't stop, obviously, when he got close to the taxi I was in.  What have we learned from this? When in Nairobi, do not a) talk on the phone while driving - seriously, drivers are crazy enough when they aren't distracted with a phone call; and b) have your window down all the way at night (even during the day, actually) because if you are in traffic you are then just inviting theft!  It was crazy!  Luckily, I wasn't too late for my dinner and my friends had a glass of wine waiting for me when I got there :)


August 27, 2011 - Addendum

Just to add to Grace's 2 1/2 year old update:  her physical abilities now include being just tall enough to open the doors in our house by herself, which I discovered at 2 am last night when I woke up and she was standing inside our mosquito net, right next to me in bed, with her face very close to mine.  She wasn't talking or crying - maybe coughing a bit to get my attention - but she was wide awake and...right there!  She's never done that before.  Normally she would cry if she woke up and one of us would go resettle her. This was new - and a little spooky!  Not only did she crawl out from under her mosquito net and open her door, but she also walked across the house in the dark and under our net!  Impressive for 2 am.  But here's hoping she doesn't make it a habit!


Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011 - Quarter Decade

Gracie Girl is 2 1/2 years old today.  CRAZY!  She really shows us her "big girl"-ness everyday.  Given her recent growth spurt, she is physically able to do a lot more things than she could do before - such as getting in and out of her chair at the table by herself (which, you can imagine, does not help us on the eating front at all!) and doing a somersault (75% success rate).  She can REACH a lot higher so we often find ourselves trying to figure out where she has hidden our stuff.  She loves, loves, loves to jump on the trampoline and to climb, swing and slide at any playground she can get to.  I think she is getting a lot more confident and physically active now that she has grown a bit.  Grace is also doing great with her potty training.  She only wears diapers for sleeping and has, on average, only one accident a day in her big-girl underwear.  This is an achievement because she was doing great before we all got so sick, and then completely regressed, but has gotten right back to where she was in the last two weeks.

Her imagination is exploding - she does a lot of "pretend" with her toys and puts her "friends" in a variety of situations that she herself has been in (example:  "Oh no, Mama.  Doggie Doggie doesn't feel so good.  He has to go see Dr. Nesbitt for some medicine."). She also is socializing her toys - having her Lego people play with her Fisher Price people's house and having her Fisher Price people play with her cars.  She loves to do puzzles and lately especially likes to play the game "Memory", which we call "matches".  She gets really excited when anyone makes a match - not just herself - and will sincerely congratulate us: "Great job, Far! You did it!" (with a big pat on his back).  Additionally, she is really interested in the alphabet and counting.  She can correctly identify many letters (A, B, G, H, L, M, N, and O - with about 90% accuracy) and when I read to her before bed she often wants me to spell out the words (you can imagine that I'm choosing really SHORT books these days).  She loves to count things and will do so in both languages.  Because language acquisition peaks at the age of 3 (for real), we know that the next half year is really critical for her Danish.  We might need to get to Denmark soon for some full-immersion Danish.

Grace, as I know is true with all toddlers, says the cutest and darnedest things.  Just a few examples:
  • Last night I went out to dinner with my friends after the kids went to sleep - for the first time in over 8 months.  I was getting ready while Grace was about to go to bed and she saw me dressed up and said, "Wow, Mama! You look so cute.  I like those shoes!"  
  • Putting her in the car today after grocery shopping I told her, "Grace, you behaved so nicely in the store today.  Thank you!" to which she replied, "You too, Mama!  Great job! I'm very happy with you!" (Charles thought that was hysterical).
  • At the playground the other day she kept saying "I'm a psychic!" instead of "I'm excited!"
  • She has recently started calling Rose, "Rosie Rosie"...and there is no way to describe how cute it is when she calls her friend to play: "Rosie Rosie?  Where are you?"
Grace is also growing into her role as big sister nicely.  She likes to pile every single baby toy we have right in front of Noah so he has access to all and she encourages him when he is trying to crawl.  She is still jealous sometimes, still acts out because of that jealousy sometimes, but she has more and more sweet big sister moments and nobody makes Noah laugh or smile the way she does.

Happy Half Birthday, Grace!  
You really ARE amazing!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23, 2011 - Drew (take two)


Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011 - Lucky Number Seven

Noah is 7 months old today.  Big boy! In the last two months (actually the last week) he has gotten his first two teeth.  This month he also learned to play peek-a-boo and is very close to crawling. He can actually get on all fours and rock; he can also do the plank position quite naturally (that is a yoga position - it looks like he has just done a push up - he is really strong!).  As of one week ago he was 7.7 kg (16.94 lbs), which means he has dropped down to the 25th percentile after having been sick quite a bit the last two months.  We are hoping to see his weight perk up a bit in the next month (but are also trying not to freak out that he is following in his sister's weight "footsteps").  He is 68.5 cm long (just about 27 inches) which puts him in the 50th percentile for length.  

Despite having been quite ill, you wouldn't know it to look at him.  He is all drooly smiles, particularly when watching Grace.  Today he seems to have begun the season of "separation anxiety" because we were at my friend's house this morning and when I went to take Grace to the bathroom, he cried when I gave him to my friend.  That was a first!  He is not sleeping well - sigh - and all of the progress we had made with his sleep training seemed to go out the window when he got sick.  Think we'll have to start over from scratch sometime in the next couple of weeks.  He is eating three solid "meals" a day and continues to breastfeed.  He tried green beans last night for the first time and liked them a lot, but his all time favs seems to still be apple/pear and sweet potatoes.  Just as his sister did, he seems like teething on a whole, peeled carrot.  Unlike his sister at the same age, he does not like to be read to (he does like to teeth on books though - just doesn't want to sit still to hear them read aloud).  

I expect before his 8th month is over he'll be crawling and into everything, following Grace around.  He continues to make us so happy and grateful for him, every single day.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20, 2011 - Just Saying Hello


Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19, 2011 - Water Bottles

This video is likely to be of no interest to anyone except maybe me, Kristoffer, and Grace's grandparents, but here it is anyway.  I was at the spa for my birthday, Kristoffer was home with the kids.  He filmed Grace when she didn't know (or didn't care), until the very end that is, and I love how you can just see her little mind working.  You'll also notice her "Danglish" - mostly English sentences with Danish words thrown in - is pretty funny.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011 - Safari Shots

We may have had the shortest safari ever, but we managed to capture a few nice moments in the wild before everyone got too sick.

Inside our lovely tent at Tipilikwani Camp.

 Lions playing by a watering hole.
 Watching them try to get our hot air balloon up.
 A young lion.
 Morning parade of elephants.

 My favorite shot - this guy getting ready for a morning nap.
 An angry bird?
 The Great Migration: Wildebeest


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17, 2011 - Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger and over the last several years had donated $1 million to the School Meals Programme at WFP Kenya, where Kristoffer is a Programme Officer.  It has been his job over the last few years to actually spend Drew’s donation and she wanted her money to go for more than just food, but also to improve infrastructure and the school communities.  So Kristoffer became an expert on various things that are not typically in WFP’s mandate, such as building schools, classrooms, latrines, kitchens, boreholes and, his pride and joy – providing energy-saving stoves. 

Drew came to Kenya for her second or third time this past May, and because Kristoffer implemented and managed her projects he was tasked with showing them off to her during a three-day trip in the field.  Drew also brought a team from the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, in which she is featured this month.  In addition to her cover shoot, the article inside in the magazine – which you can find here – highlights the work Drew’s money has done in Kenya.  It is particularly timely, given the crisis here now, and Kristoffer is also pleased to be quoted in the article.  We hope that her advocacy increases donations to WFP at this time. 

Kristoffer’s overall impressions of Drew Barrymore were that she was very down-to-earth and really passionate about helping make a difference in Kenya. She was easy to talk to and asked a lot of questions about her projects. The Kenyan children in the schools she has helped have no idea how much money she has and have never seen one of her movies, but she is famous to them for even more important reasons. It sounded to me like she was very impressed with the work Kristoffer did with her money; she hugged him many times to say thank you (which did make him blush, yes.  She was in ET after all!). 

I think Kristoffer felt rewarded to show her his work and to introduce her to his colleagues in the field.  In the village where they built a revolutionary new borehole, not only did the Samburu people honor Drew in a meaningful way (see the pictures below, where the woman painted her face and put her in traditional clothes to dance from the school to the borehole), but they also honored Kristoffer.  Because he fought so hard to bring them water and didn’t give up when it looked impossible, he was given the tail of a wildebeest, which is an honor usually reserved for tribal chiefs.  I can tell you, it is an honor that he will never forgot.

So even though we’ve had to keep it a secret since May (until the magazine came out), please enjoy a few of the (hundreds of) pictures from Kristoffer’s days with Drew.  And, remember, if you haven’t made a donation yet but would like to help alleviate hunger in the Horn of Africa, it is not too late to visit here.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011 - Latest

After last week's drama, I am so behind on all sorts of things that I would like to be caught up on: bills, paperwork, baby books, activity planning for mornings with Grace, blogs, emails, etc.  One of these days - hopefully before Grace is a teenager - I will get caught up.  But for now just a few of my latest notes/thoughts:
  • Noah got his first tooth on Sunday August 14th!  It seems there are more on their way because the last two nights he has been awake screaming for hours :(  I keep reminding myself not to forget how cute his baby face is without teeth, because I know once that little tooth becomes visible he will start to change into a little boy! (tear...yes...doesn't take much to get me weepy these days.)
  • At the doctor's office this morning, where both children received clean bills of health following their illnesses, we learned that Grace weighs 11 kg on the dot (that is 24.2 lbs) and is now above 5th percentile for her weight.  Again, I fought back tears, which the doctor could obviously see when he wrote me and Kristoffer a prescription for a bottle of champagne.  Of course it is Grace's victory, but I feel that we have fought hard to help her gain every gram so I am very proud of all of us and hope her success continues.  (I'm also praying that we have no repeat of the same weight issues with Noah!)
  • My mother-in-law is in New York City with her best friend, staying with our dear Bibi Jean and hopefully not being washed away by all the rain.  I am jealous of her for having two weeks in the city I love so much.  I hope she has an amazing time! 
  • We are a few weeks away from having a new niece or nephew.  Baby Phelps will be here no later than September 1st and we are really excited for his or her arrival.  While I know Christine and Kevin are in for the exhaustion that comes with a new baby, I envy them the newness of it all and the special time in a family when there is just one little baby in the house.  Their whole world is about to change.
  • Speaking of being exhausted:  I am!

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011 - And Then...

Two Fridays ago, August 5th, our family departed for a weekend safari to the Masai Mara.  The plan was simple: drive to our camp at the Mara, meet up with our friends The Burt Family,  go on some game drives to see the Great Migration, leave the kids at camp with Rose for a hot air balloon ride (a present for my 30th and 31st birthdays) on Saturday morning, have a great time, come home on Sunday.  Nice plan, right?  Unfortunately...that is not at all how the weekend went, or the entire week that followed as a matter of fact.  Here's a summary of what happened:

Halfway through our drive to the Mara, Noah began to be sick.  Fever, vomiting.  We thought it might be car sickness, but he continued to get worse.


Early Saturday morning - when it was still pitch black out! - Kristoffer and I attempted to go on our hot air balloon ride.  We had a one hour drive to get to the balloon site - saw two black rhinos at least! - and watched as they tried to get the balloon up in the air.  It was way too windy in that particular spot, though, and our balloon ride was cancelled because it was unsafe to take off.  I was so disappointed that I cried.


We had a good game drive to get back to camp after the balloon disappointment, but right after we ate breakfast we packed up to drive back to Nairobi (less than 24 hours after our arrival).  I had talked to Dr. Nesbitt and he was worried about Noah's fever.


The short cut we were told to take to drive home faster ended up taking about one hour longer than the way we had originally come.


The car's engine overheated and stalled us for another hour as Kristoffer put about 15 liters of water in it (there was no coolant! this was a Landcruiser we had rented for safari).


Noah developed a rash all over his entire body.  Continued to have a high fever.  Continued vomiting.  Longest car ride ever.


We finally got back to Nairobi - about 6 hours later - and Noah was instantly admitted to the Gertrude's Children Hospital, where he had also been admitted as a newborn with a virus as well.  He was given IV fluids and his blood tests showed a very high white blood cell count (double, actually) so he was started on IV antibiotics.  Rash got worse.  It was believed to be a virus in addition to the bacterial infection.


On Sunday, Grace was miserable.  We thought she was just unhappy with me and Noah being in the hospital and all of the attention he was getting, but she turned out to have a high fever as well and "the rash" slowly developed all over her body as well.  They couldn't treat her in the ward where Noah was admitted because she wasn't also admitted, so she ended up going through the emergency room.  Once her fever came down she was better but in addition to the fever/rash virus, she was also diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was also put on antibiotics.


Every time Kristoffer went to start our car, the battery was dead so he kept having to get a jump. Also, I started to have pain in my right knee whenever I bent it.


Finally, after a great night on Monday when his fever finally broke (48 hours on the dot after starting IV fluids and antibiotics), Noah was discharged and we were home after lunch on Tuesday.  Grace was also feeling much better by this time.


I started to feel unwell.  Had a terrible headache, increasing pain in my right knee, new pain to move my neck, and general discomfort.


Around midnight I became really nervous about my neck pain (thinking: meningitis! no!) and inability to tolerate any light.  I've had migraines before and this was just as bad as or worse than they were.  Kristoffer took me to the emergency room, with both kids in the car, and drove to pick up Rose at her home so that she could stay with the kids and he could go back to me in the emergency room.


The emergency room was awful.  There was only one other person there, and they still were insanely slow.  They gave me something for the pain, but would not give me IV fluids, even though I asked.  My blood work came back with a possible sign of infection so they gave me antibiotics and pain meds and sent me home.


I was so sick that I could barely sleep. I was mostly just moaning.


I started vomiting.  Couldn't even keep down one sip of water or one bite of banana.  Called my cardiologist/general practitioner and he said to come in.


He immediately admitted me to the hospital (this time Nairobi Hospital where he practices, not Aga Khan as usual) for observation, pain medication, and most of all IV fluids - I was seriously dehydrated.  I was diagnosed with "viral meningismus", which is basically all of the symptoms of meningitis (so my fears were not that far off!) but without the actual inflammation of the brain or spinal cord (THANK GOD). I felt much better after the first bag of fluids and continued to get well quickly - the medicine they had given me in the ER had just made me so much sicker with the vomiting AND I did not have a bacterial infection so shouldn't have been on antibiotics in the first place.


I went home late morning on Thursday feeling exhausted by the whole week, but not sick anymore.

It took all day Friday before I felt somewhat myself again.  Grace was so happy because Friday morning was the first day she woke up and I was home and well all week.  She and Noah recovered quickly and were doing great - it was amazng to have all of us home.

Saturday was my birthday - thank you to my wonderful husband for his sweet blog and for everything he did to keep us all afloat last week.  I had a lovely, happy day (which included a 2 1/2 hour spa treatment) and have never been more grateful for my family to be healthy again!

That was more than enough drama for awhile.  Let's have a calm, quiet, boring week now please!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Faidherbia Albida

There is a super tree in Africa, the Faidherbia Albida or commonly know as Apple-ring Acacia.

Unlike most other trees, it sheds its leaves during the early rainy season at the time when seeds need fertilizer and regrows them at the beginning of the dry season, so not competing with crops for light. Planting the trees can nearly triple yields. In Malawi, maize yields under the acacia are 280 per cent higher than outside it.
This fast-growing tree provides organic fertiliser and it acts as a windbreak, is an excellent source fuelwood (19.741 kJ/kg = very high) and construction and cuts erosion by loosening the soil to absorb water during the rainy season. Its deep-penetrating tap root makes it highly resistant to drought.

Faidherbia Albida is important in raising bees, since its flowers provide bee forage at the close of the rainy season, when most other local plants do not. The seed pods are very great for raising livestock as it makes the animals stronger.
The tree has medicinal value for the treatment of infections such as those of the respiratory kind, also for malaria and fevers. It is useful in treating problems of the digestive system. The bark is employed in dental hygiene and its extract is employed in the treatment of toothache. The extract is also used to treat ocular infections in farm animals.

In short, every living organism on the planet thrives under Faidherbia Albida and makes it reach its highest potential.

Lisa, you are our Faidherbia Albida, thanks for letting us grow under your branches. 
Happy Birthday – Jeg elsker dig.


Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1, 2011 - The Age of WHY?

As of this weekend, Grace has officially started "the Age of WHY?"  This particular phase in a toddler's life, as I understand it so far, involves lengthy and elaborate conversations during which she repeats the same word over and over (until possibly satisfied) and the other participants (so far, me, Kristoffer and Rose) are forced to dig into depths of our own knowledge or understanding of a topic that we may not actually possess.  The conversations quickly spiral into the realms of "How much do I actually tell her?", which are noted by lots of ... in the conversation below, and "Quick!  Google it!"  

"The Age of WHY" will no doubt get more interesting and perhaps frustrating as time progresses, but so far I am happy to report that I have not yet said, "Because I said so."  I figure I better save those for when I'm really desperate.

Below is a sample conversation that I actually had with Grace this morning (almost verbatim, honestly).  Grace's play castle had collapsed on Friday because the stitching had come undone in 3 places.  I brought my sewing box downstairs (thank you to Oldemor for that one!) and began my attempt to fix the castle.

Mama: Grace, I'm going to try to fix your castle.

Grace: Why?

M: Because it fell down and won't stand up anymore. (as I start doing stitching related activities...)

G: Why?

M: Because maybe it wasn't made so well and so I have to fix it.

G: Why?

M: Um...because it was probably made in China and isn't the best quality.

G: Why, Mama?

M: Um ... ... ... ... because really there are too many workers in China and they don't have unions or labor rights, so the companies can just pay the people not very much money and then your castle doesn't turn out so good.

G:  But why it doesn't turn out so good?

M: Well, because if people aren't paid very much money then they usually aren't very motivated to do a great job.  OUCH!

G: Oh, what happened, Mama?!

M: I pricked myself with the needle.

G: Why?

M: Because I'm not very domestic.

G: Why?

M: Um ... ... ... ... because in 7th grade my Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Hazard, was kind of a weird lady and maybe I didn't pay enough attention.

G: Why?

M:  Because it was more fun to talk to my friends than to make a beanbag frog.

 - - - Time lapse here of about 10 more minutes - - -
(more WHY questions from Grace with RAMBLING ANSWERS from me)

M:  Hey, Grace...look!  I finished!  I did it!  Your castle is all better!

G:  My castle! Mama!  You 'mestic now?

M: Yes! I am domestic now!

G: Thank you, Mama.  Let's hide from Rose and Noah.

(Note: After two hours of playing in the castle, it is still standing, although one of the three spots where I stitched has come undone.  I'll fix it tonight when she is sleeping to avoid further inquiries into Chinese economics or politics or population growth.)